April 26, 2017

September 28, 2011, 7:39 am
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I. Glenn Cohen: Medical Tourism, Access to Health Care, and Global Justice

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I. Glenn Cohen, Harvard Law School

Editor’s Note: This month’s issue of the Virginia Journal of International Law features a paper by Glenn Cohen, Harvard assistant professor of law, on the topic of “Medical Tourism, Access to Health Care, and Global Justice.”

We’re pleased to provide the following abstract and a link to the complete paper.


Medical tourism – the travel of patients from one (the “home”) country to another (the “destination”) country for medical treatment – represents a growing business. A number of authors have raised the concern that medical tourism reduces access to healthcare for the destination country’s poor and suggested that home country governments or international bodies have obligations to curb medical tourism or mitigate its negative effects when they occur.

This article is the first to comprehensively examine both the question of whether this negative effect on access to health care occurs for the destination country’s poor, and the normative question of the home country and international bodies’ obligations if it does occur. I draw on the work of leading theorists from the Statist, Cosmopolitan, and intermediate camps on global justice and apply it to medical tourism. I also show how the application of these theories to medical tourism highlights areas in which these theories are underspecified and suggests diverging paths for filling in lacunae. Finally, I discuss the kinds of home country, destination country, and multilateral forms of regulation this analysis would support and reject.

This article is the second in a trilogy of law review articles I have done on various aspects of medical tourism. The first article, “Protecting Patients with Passports: Medical Tourism and the Patient Protective-Argument, 95 Iowa L. Rev. 1467 (2010),” is available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1523701. The third article, “Circumvention Tourism, 97 Cornell L. Rev. _ (2012),” is forthcoming and will be posted on SSRN in the near future.

To read the entire paper, click here:

Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 52, 2011

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